Just got home from our missions trip to Costa Rica... this morning... at 4 AM. I almost didn't get home though. It's a long story... not for this particular post... but let's just say that the good folks who are in charge of making sure that no bad guys enter our country had me confused with someone else... and they took two hours to make sure I was a good guy. I was happy to cooperate, but new that the delay would cause me to miss my connecting flight to Chicago with the rest of my team (and my kids)! I prayed FERVENTLY. Turns out the connecting flight was about an hour late (I'll let you decide if it was a coincidence or not)... and I was escorted by my new friends in the federal government past all lines immediately to the gate in time to catch the connecting flight with my team. My three teenagers actually looked relieved to see me!
Double click any of the pictures to enlarge and get a better look. Also, at the end, I will include a link for more pictures...
During worship, before the first of my five 90 minute training sessions with about 50 Latin American youth leaders, I just became overwhelmed with the presence and goodness of God... to the point of weeping. I tried to push the tears back as I stood up to begin the training, but I didn't even get a sentence out before I started weeping. I came all the way from Illinois to Costa Rica to train National youth leaders... and all I can do is blubber! The older I get the more God seems to be softening my heart. I just got overwhelmed with God's amazing power. I was thinking about my entire journey with God and how it had led up to this. Having my three teenagers with me also may have made me a little more emotional too... to see them taking in this missions experience... to see them getting glimpse of the power and bigness of God. I eventually got going and proceeded with the training.
I trained these Latin American youth leaders from all seven provinces of Costa Rica using Cadre Ministries' training workshop The Teaching Genius of Jesus.
These young leaders are hungry to learn and fun to learn from! We bonded immediately. I was so impressed with they're love for God and their passion for making Him known to the nations. Many of these young leaders are preparing to be missionaries to other countries! (How often is that happening in your church or ministry?)
Cadre missionary, Dave Garda, trained, coached, and mentored some young married men—in 2 Timothy 2:2 fashion.
Cadre missionary, Rennie Garda (Dave's wife), trained, coached, and mentored the young married women—in Titus 2:4-5 fashion.
If my wife knew how my kids were traveling to and from the meetings we had in Costa Rica, I don't think she'd be very happy with the safety factor. But Emily, Bill, and Aubrey seemed to enjoy the challenge of squeezing in the back of a car and going along for the ride. And what a ride it is! If you've never been in a car in a place like Costa Rica, I just can't explain the "driving" to you. Let's just say that there is NEVER a dull moment.
I went through about four different translators. I think I was driving them nuts with all my idioms. It seems that there are no Spanish equivalents for much of the way I communicate! And you should have seen how I won their hearts when I announced (with a big smile): "I grew up playing real sports... not a fake sport like soccer." Even with all my idioms and bad ideas for humor, there were moments in the training that God just showed up and everything became electric. One night during the middle of the training, a spontaneous and intense interaction about discipleship developed. This interaction could only be described as exhilarating... as it was evident to all—in spite of the need and slowness of having everything go through a translator—that God was present. It was a true WOW GOD moment.
All I have to say about this picture above is: Ministry Is Relationships.
Pastor, friend, ministry partner, and Cadre trainer Ken Lippold... and Rennie... and Emily... take a moment to enjoy some time together.
During the training, we used an object lesson to show that if you want to teach like Jesus, you must be constantly loving God and learning his Word... to the point of overflowing. We teach and minister out of the overflow of God's work in us. If we want God to do great things in us, then we must first allow Him to do great things through us. This is Cadre's grow, minister, and lead approach to life and ministry.
After the training, Emily, Bill, and Aubrey were invited to participate in one of the local youth ministries. Check out what the youth leader taught his students that night. This is precisely why I loved training these youth leaders... they actually go back to their ministries and use it! That's multiplication!
From left to right in the front: Emily, Bill, me, Aubrey, Karen Edwards, Dave, and Rennie. Back: Ken and Mark Edwards
For a few more pictures, GO HERE.